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President Kennedy speaks with Senate GOP leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois in March 1961. Dirksen's support was critical to passing civil rights legislation through Congress. Harvey Georges/AP hide caption

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Harvey Georges/AP

Until the political parties learn to hold the center, we may wind up with more of this. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland (left), who will be the House minority whip in the new Congress, and Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia, the incoming majority leader, leave after a prayer service Wednesday at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images hide caption

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Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images